The Jewels in My Crown
Dear Woman by Michael E. Reid is one of the most inspiring books I have read in recent times. The fact that a man has written an entire book meant to inspire women to take charge of themselves and their lives is remarkable. There is a particular poem in the book that speaks to me and makes me think that I am enough as I am.
Having been raised by a feminist father and a supportive mother who still wanted the traditional things for her daughters, I have followed a path that was more or less defined for me. I have tried to balance work, household, marriage, children, family, and myself. And mostly things have gone well. But ever since I’ve had time to think about my path and purpose, I’ve come up feeling lost and confused.
With the loss of my youth, I have started to gain wisdom. I have decided I’m going to be enough. I don’t have to be more or less for someone else. I am going to be the best woman I can possibly be. This is where Michael’s words have felt like they were written for me. So many times we make ourselves small to better match those in our lives, – spouses, friends, colleagues, family members. But that is not necessary. Why should I step back or give up parts of what make me so that someone else doesn’t feel less or inadequate?
Overcoming a life’s worth of conditioning isn’t easy. For me, it was combination of factors – I left my job giving me time to think about myself and I turned 40 – that created conditions conducive to inner change. I had to like what I saw in the mirror, count all my blessing, think hard about what I already had in my life rather than what I was missing. I had to give myself credit for all that I had accomplished without comparing myself or my life to anyone else I know. And most importantly I had to stop waiting for validation – stop waiting for someone to say how wonderful I was, how accomplished I was, how loved and cherished I was. I
It isn’t easy to change how you feel about yourself. There are some things you need to let go and new things you need to embrace. And how do you build resilience? How do you remember each day that you are enough?
For a while I even wore a bracelet to remind myself of the love in my life. I know it is going to be a lifelong process but I’ve started with an acceptance of my body, recognition of my strengths and limits, and an attitude of gratefulness for every day.
Dear Woman (the book) by Michael E. Reid is described as “a book of quotes, letters, short stories, and poems written to provide education, motivation, encouragement, and a little tough love to women of all ages. Dear Woman is a journey through womanhood that visits some of the deepest and darkest corners of women’s lives, with hopes of shedding a little light and love. This book is written from the perspective of a man who wants nothing more than for you to be the best woman possible, regardless of circumstance.” Here is the poem that inspired this post.